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Mark A. Robinson v. Robert Marsh

May 1, 2013

MARK A. ROBINSON, PLAINTIFF
v.
ROBERT MARSH, ET AL., DEFENDANTS



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Martin C. Carlson United States Magistrate Judge

(Judge Mariani) (Magistrate Judge Carlson)

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

I. Statement of Facts and of the Case

This is a pro se civil rights action brought by Mark Robinson, a state inmate who was confined at the State Correctional Institution (SCI) Rockview, in April of 2011. (Doc. 35.) In his amended complaint, filed on August 7, 2012, Robinson describes himself as a highly litigious, and mentally fragile, inmate-plaintiff. According to the well-pleaded facts set forth in Robinson's complaint, on April 12, 2011, the plaintiff was housed in the Restricted Housing Unit at SCI Rockview. Robinson alleges that while housed in the RHU, one of the defendants, Deputy Superintendent Marsh, stopped by his cell and threatened Robinson, stating that staff was going to confiscate Robinson's legal property in retaliation for his filing of civil complaints against prison officials. (Id., ¶12.) Robinson alleges that, on this same day he experienced a "break with reality", which caused him to "remov[e] all of his clothing and cover[] himself along with plaintiff's entire . . . cell with . . . feces." (Id., ¶¶15-16.)

Robinson then states that defendant Klinefelter and unidentified defendant correctional officers entered his RHU unit cell, searching the cell and confiscating property. (Id., ¶¶17-23.) According to Robinson, after his cell was searched, and his property removed he was "left without anything inside of his . . . cell, except feces," (Id., ¶23), until he was transferred by Lieutenant Klinefelter to a prison mental health facility, the Special Assessment Unit at SCI Waymart. (Id., ¶24.) Robinson further states that, upon his return to SCI Rockview, he spoke with Lieutenant Klinefelter and asked why he was left in his cell on April 12, 2011, without medical or mental health assistance, clothing or an opportunity to clean himself. (Id., ¶¶25-29.) Robinson alleges that defendant Klinefelter stated that he was forced to remain in the cell under these harsh conditions at the direction of Defendant Marsh. (Id.) On the basis of these allegations, Robinson sues Deputy Superintendent Marsh, Lieutenant Klinefelter, and unidentified correctional staff, alleging that on April 12, 2011, the defendants violated his Eighth Amendment right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment during this April 12 incident. (Id.)

This case now comes before the court for resolution of a discovery dispute. Specifically, Robinson seeks disclosure of the identities of the unidentified correctional staff who participated in this cell search on April 12, 2011. The defendants have refused to disclose the identities of these officers, and Robinson has moved to compel this disclosure. (Doc. 45.) This motion to compel has been fully briefed by the parties and is now ripe for resolution. For the reasons set forth below, the motion will be granted.

II. Discussion

Several basic guiding principles inform our resolution of the instant discovery dispute. At the outset, Rule 37 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure governs motions to compel discovery, and provides that:

(a) Motion for an Order Compelling Disclosure or Discovery

(1) In General. On notice to other parties and all affected persons, a party may move for an order compelling disclosure or discovery. . .

Fed. R. Civ. P. 37(a).

The scope of what type of discovery may be compelled under Rule 37 is defined, in turn, by Rule 26(b)(1) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, which provides as follows:

(1) Scope in General. Unless otherwise limited by court order, the scope of discovery is as follows: Parties may obtain discovery regarding any non-privileged matter that is relevant to any party's claim or defense -- including the existence, description, nature, custody, condition, and location of any documents or other tangible things and the identity and location of persons who know of any discoverable matter. For good cause, the court may order discovery of any matter relevant to the subject matter involved in the action. Relevant information need not be admissible at trial if the discovery ...


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